Cool Android Apps

A handful of cool and useful free, mostly open source Android apps…

I like to fool around with my electronic devices to learn about them and my Android powered smartphones are always victims of my curiosity. Upon entering the smartphone world, i soon found myself installing custom ROMs, tweaking various things and looking for apps to replace the functionality of all of the Google apps which i remove (i hate Google for a number of reasons).

Since neither the Google Play Store nor the Google Services Framework exist on my devices, i began looking for alternative repositories and i quickly discovered F-Droid which is a great resource for (mostly) free, open source, ad-free Android apps that are compiled from source by the F-Droid team. Compiling from source is important because it guarantees that the compiled app contains nothing more than what is in the publicly available source code.

Before you get started installing apps from F-Droid you will need to enable the installation of apps from unknown sources if you haven’t already done so. I’m sure some might see this as a major no-no, to which i would reply that, out of 27 repositories tested in a 2017 independent study, including the Google Play Store, F-Droid was the only one in which no instances of malware were found. While the number of instances of malware in the Play Store was low, understand that the privacy aspect of those apps was not considered and this is perhaps the greatest concern with Play Store apps. Also see:

If you still have concerns about using the F-Droid app repository, i suggest reading Android Markets: How safe are alternative sources?.

F-Droid does not require you to create an account to access their repository and once the F-Droid client app is installed, which makes it super easy to browse their repo, it will notify you when an update is available for any app which was installed using it. The selection of apps isn’t exactly massive at the moment but it is probably adequate for most people and it is constantly growing. They also have an active community forum where members can suggest new apps. Other places to look for apps are GitHub, XDA Developers, AndroidCentral and the Google developers websites.

Following are some of my favorite apps for Android devices. Keep in mind that if you download these apps without using the F-Droid client, you may not be made aware of updates. It is therefore recommended to install the F-Droid client app first and install your apps using it.

F-DroidThe F-Droid client app provides easy device access to the F-Droid repositories for open source Android apps. Unless you want to install the compiled apk files directly, which i don’t recommend because you will not be informed of updates, you will need the F-Droid client. F-Droid @ F-Droid.

 

AdAway AdAway is a compact and effective ad blocker which uses less resources than AdBlock+ because it leverages the hosts file, however this requires you have root privileges. Updating the host file can be done manually or automatically. AdAway @ F-Droid.

 

AFWall+AFWall+ provides a GUI to easily manipulate the Linux iptables firewall. AFWall+ comes packaged with the iptables and BusyBox binaries and requires root privileges to run. Note that there is a donate version which unlocks a few extra features, such as logging. If you don’t wish to get the donate key at the Google Play Store, contact the AFWall+ developer to see what options he may offer. AFWall+ @ F-Droid.

 

Amaze file browserAmaze is a really nice file manager with an intuitive and attractive interface. It includes an FTP server which allows you to browse the file system over your network. Root privileges will be required if you want to browse the entire file system. Amaze is pretty powerful, but If you need something even more powerful, try Ghost Commander below. Amaze @ F-Droid.

 

Barcode ScannerBarcode Scanner supports many barcode types as well as QR codes and it seems to be pretty good at what it does. Barcode Scanner @ F-Droid.

 

BubbleBubble is a simple, handy app for leveling things and measuring angles in different ways. It is old no longer maintained and can be a bit buggy, but it’s the best app of its type i could find on F-Droid and it works well enough. Bubble @ F-Droid.

 

Simple CalendarCalendar is part of a suite of open source apps by Simple Mobile Tools. Calendar works offline without having to share your data with a 3rd party. It provides what you would expect from a typical calendar app and does so in a visually pleasing way. There are plenty of settings to customize the interface to your liking. Simple Calendar @ F-Droid.

 

Call RecorderCall Recorder simply records both incoming and outgoing calls and offers several options for doing so, though an option to selectively record calls via a simple choice when a call is placed or received is not one of them unfortunately. The developer tells us that most phones will not support call recording, so don’t blame Call Recorder if it bombs. I would also venture a guess that it may not work on devices that are running an OEM version of Android. Call Recorder @ F-Droid.

 

DrawDraw is part of a suite of open source apps by Simple Mobile Tools. Draw is a bare-bones app that lets you draw stuff. I find it useful when i have a spur of the moment design idea and no paper. Draw @ F-Droid.

 

ForecastieForecastie is a simple weather forecast app that works off-line and pulls weather information from OpenWeatherMap. It provides a fairly detailed forecast in text form for the current day, as well as an extended forecast. Forecastie does not display a radar weather map, so if you want that functionality you might try wX below. Forecastie @ F-Droid.

 

Ghost CommanderGhost Commander is a powerful, feature packed and polished file manager for Android, however you will need root access to take full advantage of. It can be extended even further with plugins. If you don’t need all the functionality that Ghost Commander provides, try Amaze above. Ghost Commander @ F-Droid.

 

KeePassDroidKeePassDroid is a great little password manager for storing all your passwords, log-on credentials or private text snippets. It is compatible with the KeePass Password Safe database files. One caveat that should be mentioned here is that the base-band OS (radio firmware) on all smartphones is proprietary and apparently has low-level access to the keyboard, so i wouldn’t suggest storing any super important passwords on any device that has a cellular modem, Android or otherwise, especially if you are a journalist or activist. KeePassDroid @ F-Droid.

 

Music PlayerMusic Player is yet another open source app from Simple Mobile Tools. It has all the basic functionality you’d expect, including the ability to manage playlists. Like all of the Simple Mobile Tools apps, Music Player has a clean and pleasing interface that is easy to use. Music Player @ F-Droid.

 

Offline CalendarOffline Calendar is a companion for the default calendar app that allows it to work offline without having to rely upon a third party to store (spy on) your personal data, however since your calendar data is stored locally, no syncing is possible. Offline Calendar @ F-Droid.

 

Omni NotesOmni Notes is a really nice app for creating different kinds of notes, including checklists, text, image and audio notes. I use this app a lot for managing to-do lists. One nice feature it has that several others lack is the ability to re-order checklist items by drag-and-drop which is great if you want to sort stuff by priority. Omni Notes @ F-Droid.

 

Open CameraOpen Camera is a powerful, feature rich camera app for those that don’t like the default camera. It supports front and rear cameras, image stabilization, manual controls, many different resolutions, auto-focus and much more. That said, the developer cannot possibly support every feature of every camera and so it may not be a good fit for some camera hardware. Open camera @ F-Droid.

 

OS MonitorOS Monitor is a handy app which allows you to monitor various aspects of the Android OS including network connections and running processes, as well as being able to view and export system logs. OS Monitor @ F-Droid.

 

OsmAndOsmAnd is a very powerful map and navigation application similar to Google Maps, however it uses Open Street Maps by default instead of the proprietary Google Maps, though it is capable of using maps from other sources. With all this power comes a ton of configuration options and it can be extended even further with plug-ins, so expect to fool around with it for a while in order to make efficient use of it. Its features include GPS voice guided navigation, GPS status, favorites, POI display, adding audio and video clips to locations and much more. It also works offline so you don’t need a data connection to use it. There is both a free and donate version of OsmAnd and it appears that the version currently published on F-Droid is the fully featured one. OsmAnd @ F-Droid.

 

Privacy BrowserPrivacy Browser, as the name implies, is a privacy oriented web browser that is also focused on security. This slick browser makes it very easy to allow or disallow web storage, JavaScript and cookies on a per-site basis as well of many other options. Privacy Browser @ F-Droid.

 

Sensor ReadoutSensor Readout can access many of your devices sensors, some of which you may not know it had, and output the raw data in a scalable graph form. It’s an interesting little app that may not have much use for most people, but i think the acceleration data could be useful to those who want to minimize vibration in machines like a multi-rotor aircraft or just about anything else that vibrates too much. Sensor Readout @ F-Droid.

 

UnitsUnits is a very powerful calculator and unit conversion app for converting from one unit of measure to another, such as from inches to centimeters. If you would rather something simpler, but still comprehensive, try Unit Converter Ultimate below. Units @ F-Droid.

 

Unit Converter UltimateUnit Converter Ultimate is another nice conversion app with lots of predefined conversion formats. Though it lacks a calculator and the powerful syntax of Units, it is still quite comprehensive. Unit Converter Ultimate @ F-Droid.

 

wXwX may be the most comprehensive (and complex) weather app for Android on this side of the Milky Way. Trust me when i tell you it is not for the faint of heart as there are so many screens, widgets and options (hundreds?) it’s overwhelming. Although wX is obviously oriented toward very serious weather geeks (think meteorologists, storm chasers), i like it because it has the ability to display several kinds of animated radar maps and it doesn’t spy on you. The developer seems like a great guy too. wX @ F-Droid.

 

Auroa Store Aurora Store is a Google Play Store alternative that can list, download, install and update apps from the Play Store without having to create a Play Store account. From the official description, “[…] using Aurora you can download apps, update existing apps, search for apps, get details about app tracker & adware and much more. You can also Spoof your Device Information, Language and Region to get access to the apps that are not yet available or restricted in your Country or Device.“. You should probably only use this if, like me, you do not have the Play Store (GAPPS) installed and the app you want is not available on F-Droid and you realize the privacy and security risks of downloading apps from the Play Store. Aurora Store @ F-Droid.

Electronic Voting Machine Fraud

This is a cursory examination of electronic voting machine fraud and the companies facilitating the manipulation of the results.

This article was last updated on [date]

It has become clear to me that it may no longer be possible to vote our way out of this messes we find ourselves in regarding politics and societal issues. Much of the voting process has been put into the hands of a few private corporations of which only two, Election Systems and Software and Diebold Election Systems, provide the vast majority of the voting hardware, software and services. Two additional corporations that play a large role are Sequoia and Hart Intercivic. All of these companies have been implicated in multiple instances of fraud and other illegalities, the following representing only a fraction:

Hundreds more instances have been cataloged by Black Box Voting.

Electronic voting machines are in use everywhere and the vast majority of voters, at least in the U.S., are forced to use them. As with any electronic device, they are susceptible to hacking and in some cases seem to be intentionally designed to be hacker friendly.

While many may appreciate their right to elect our representatives, let us not fool ourselves; if the outcome of elections in the 21st century can be, and in fact are manipulated, then we must ask ourselves, how it is that we can reasonably expect to effect change when votes are registered by insecure electronic voting machines and then counted in secret.

Forget about the alleged Russian meddlers that the mainstream media entertains you with. We have far more serious problems. The following is a video of Clint Curtis, a computer programmer at the time, testifying during a Senate hearing that a), computer programs exist to manipulate the vote count of electronic voting machines, b), that it is trivial to write one and c), that he himself was paid to write such a program for Tom Feeney, a Florida politician:

In the article, Voting Machine Company Admits Installing Vulnerable Remote-Access Software, we read:

One of the nation’s largest voting machine vendors, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), has admitted to installing vulnerable remote-access software on some of its election management systems (EMSs) equipped with modems and sold to states between 2000 to 2006.

In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), written this past April and recently obtained by Motherboard, ES&S disclosed that it installed pcAnywhere — a third-party remote-access software produced by antivirus and cybersecurity software company Symantec — on some of its EMS workstation machines.

A 2018 article, Voting Machines — Unregulated, Unverifiable, Easy to Hack, says the following:

In computer terms, many voting machines are antiques that have been in use for decades. A person with nefarious motives and access to these machines could change the results without anyone knowing, because there are no real safeguards in place.

At the Def Con cyber conference earlier this year, experts pronounced that seven models of voting machines — all still in use around the country — were highly vulnerable to hacking. One, the Express Poll-5000, actually comes with the root password “password� — breaking the one password rule even the least tech-savvy person is aware of.

Just three companies — Dominion Voting Systems of Denver, ES&S of Omaha, Nebraska, and Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas — sell and service more than 90 percent of the voting machines used in the US. Critics claim that these firms favor convenience over security, making it both easier to manipulate the machines and harder to detect such manipulation.

Watch this week’s video to learn more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH3sHaX9NnM

For a great deal more on the absurdity of electronic voting machines, i highly suggest watching the very informative documentary, Hacking Democracy:

Firefox Extensions – My Picks

Mozilla Firefox is a popular web browser that is easily extended with add-ons, of which there are literally thousands. These are my favorites…

Mozilla Firefox is a popular, extensible, open source (mostly) web browser that is highly configurable and easy to use. Somewhat bare out of the box however, its functionality is easily extended with add-ons, or ‘extensions’ if you prefer, of which there are many thousands.

Beware

AMO Malware
A typical day at the Mozilla Firefox Add-ons repository, 2019.

With so many “free” add-ons, the casual user might be tempted to install lots of them, however i would strongly suggest installing only those you really like or need since the potential to break things and compromise browser security and your privacy increases with every add-on you install.

Another problem is unethical developers who may include unwanted and unnecessary functionality which is not relevant to the primary purpose of the add-on. Often this results in data collection, tracking your web activities or worse, all of which i categorize as malware. The problem of malware in Mozilla’s add-on repository (AMO) has grown exponentially as a result of an automated review process and the company’s move to the WebExtension API which made it easy for unethical developers who have infected the Google Chrome Store to port their garbage to Firefox. Although the WebExtension API is greatly limited in its capabilities as opposed to the older XUL/XPCOM extensions, user tracking and advertising are permitted and, on occasion, far more dangerous add-ons escape detection.

Add-on selection guidelines

  • You’ve been warned. Many extensions will be accompanied by a warning on their AMO pages which indicates that the extension is not monitored by Mozilla and therefore is more risky to install. While monitored extensions are likely to be more trustworthy in general, there are many others which are perfectly fine to install as long as you trust the developer or review the code yourself.
  • Be very wary of any tool-bar add-ons. Almost all of these contain 3rd party spyware/malware components for monetization purposes.
  • If an add-on has a privacy policy, read it. Some privacy policies are fine but many are clearly worrying. If the privacy policy is a wall of text (long), it’s probably crap.
  • Read the add-on permissions. The Mozilla add-on website lists the permissions that add-ons require, though there seems to be major problems at this time in that all permissions used by an add-on may not be listed, or permissions which the add-on does not use may be listed, so don’t trust this completely. That said, look for permissions that seem unnecessary given the described functionality of the add-on.
  • Don’t install newly released add-ons. Mozilla uses a deeply flawed automated system to evaluate add-ons, so wait a while until others have had a chance to review it or flag it as abusive. If the add-on quickly disappears or gets poor reviews, be thankful you didn’t install it.
  • Check the license. Be wary of developers who use a restrictive license, such as ‘All Rights Reserved’. Most ethical developers will use a liberal, open source license, such as the General Public License (GPL) or the Mozilla Public License (MPL).
  • Is the source code published? Avoid developers that attempt to hide their source code. Most ethical developers will publish their source code on platforms like GitLab or GitHub where users can submit proper bug reports and feature requests. If the source code is not published, you can still view it by decompressing the add-on or by using the excellent Extension source viewer add-on, though you will need to have an understanding of JavaScript.
  • Does the developer offer support? Be wary of developers that makes it difficult or impossible to contact them or submit bug reports.
  • Read the user reviews. Always read the user reviews to see how well an add-on is liked and be wary if it is rated 3 stars or less, or not rated at all, or was rated highly by only a few people. Sometimes the developer of the add-on will be the first to “review” it, giving it 5 stars. Regardless of the rating however, always check the comments of the people that gave it the lowest rating to see if their gripes seem legitimate. Don’t depend on ratings alone however as there are many add-ons that have been highly rated by hundreds or thousands of people that contain malware.
  • Check the developers profile. Always check to see what other add-ons the developer has created and how those are rated. Be wary when the developer is named as a company and not an individual, or when the name used is anonymous, such as “Firefox user” followed by a random string of numbers.
  • Visit the developers website. See what kind of content is on the developers website if they link to one and look for marketing hype.
  • Be wary of very popular add-ons. Many developers of hugely popular add-ons have been contacted by malware distributing 3rd parties wanting to buy their add-on or make a deal with them. Adblock Plus by Eyeo GmbH (Wladimir Palant), which currently lists over 8 million users, is a glaring example where a developer created a hugely popular ad blocking extension which allows ads by default. The company charges advertisers 30% of their revenue from ad blocking users. Giorgio Maone, the developer of the very popular NoScript add-on, engaged in similar chicanery a while back.
  • Keep your add-ons updated, but DO NOT allow automatic updates. Before updating an add-on, read the version history to see what was changed and make sure the privacy policy, if there is one, remains strong. The problem with automatic add-on updates is that a developer may decide to monetize their work at any time and without warning, or sell their extension to an unethical party such as the developer of Stylish apparently did. Ingo Wennemaring, the well liked developer the once popular All-in-One Sidebar add-on, warned about this in a blog post:

It was always very important for me to be honest and fair to the users. I had very good offers to sell the extension, but I didn’t want to see that AiOS turn into adware or spyware.

CSP: The non-bug bug crisis

Lastly, another good reason to install as few extensions as possible has to do with Content Security Policy (CSP) and HTTP header modification. Some extensions, such as uBlock Origin, uMatrix, Canvas Blocker, etc., can modify HTTP headers in order to do what ever it is they need to do. The problem here is that there’s a rather critical bug in Firefox that remains unaddressed, the result of which is that only one extension can modify any given HTTP header and this can break the functionality of other extensions which attempt to modify the same header. Making matters worse, Mozilla refuses to call this bug a bug and therefore it isn’t a high priority item. What this means for users is that, for example, arbitrary JavaScript may run on a website even if you have scripting disabled with something like uBlock Origin or uMatrix.

There’s a few things you can do to minimize the problem: 1), don’t install more extensions than necessary, 2), disable any unneeded CSP related options in an extension, 3), check if an extension uses CSP prior to installing it with the Extension source viewer add-on (you can do this by searching the code using !content-security-policy), 4), when starting Firefox, go immediately to the add-on page (about:addons) and disable any critical extensions that use CSP and then re-enable them. For example, the most important add-ons to me are uBlock Origin and uMatrix, so when i start Firefox, i disable both and then re-enable uBlock first and uMatrix last. The last extension that you enable is the one that will have priority regarding CSP header modification.

To learn how you can disable unnecessary CSP related options in some of the add-ons listed here, see the Extensions section of the ‘ghacks’ user.js wiki.

For more, see the sticky: unofficial: the extension csp header modification game issue on the ‘ghacks’ user.js repository. Also please vote for the following issues on Bugzilla: 1421725 – finalize how changing headers should work and 1477696 – webExtension: webRequest.onHeadersReceived: accidentally overwriting header from other extensions. You can also gripe to Mozilla about this without having to create an account.

Add-ons

Add-ons are tagged with either [enhancement] or [privacy/security] in order to identify their primary role.

0T Reverse Image Search by ZcnS [enhancement]

0T Reverse Image Search is a privacy friendly add-on used to find different versions of a given image using 3rd party services such as TinEye. Reverse image searching is a great way to find higher resolution versions of an image or to find when an image may have first been published to the web, the latter of which can be beneficial for researchers.

CanvasBlocker by kkapsner [privacy/security]

CanvasBlocker blocks or fakes ‘Canvas’ which is a JavaScript API used to draw graphics on-the-fly. Canvas poses a substantial threat to privacy in that it can be used to fingerprint the browser.

Caveats: For advanced users. Will likely break some sites until settings are adjusted.

ClearURLs by Kevin R. [privacy/security]

ClearURLs replaces Neat URL as my preferred link cleaner. ClearURLs removes many tracking parameters from links you click, such as the Google utm_* garbage which is used to track where you go on the web. Unlike all of the other link cleaners i’ve seen and used, ClearURLs doesn’t include a static list of parameters, nor does it have any options or whitelist that you need to mess with. This neat little extension pulls a file from the developers GitLab repository which negates having to update the extension when there’s a change to the list of parameters. Though i was sure i was going to miss the ability to whitelist certain domains, i have yet to see anything break because of this extension.

CSS Exfil Protection by Mike Gualtieri [privacy/security]

CSS Exfil Protection prevents a certain CSS exploit that can be used to steal data from webpages.

Caveats: Could potentially break some websites, though it is easy to disable the add-on from its toolbar icon.

Dark Background and Light Text by Mikhail Khvoinitsky [enhancement]

Dark Background and Light Text replaces Dark Reader as my preferred add-on for darkening the entire web. These ‘darkify’ add-ons, of which there are many, change the colors used by all websites to a darker theme and this one seems to be the best of them.

Caveats: All of these dark web add-ons fail miserably in at least some cases and this one is no exception, however it seems to work better than all of the others i’ve tested and it offers a few different styles that can be assigned to specific websites when the default style fails.

Decentraleyes by Thomas Rientjes [privacy/security]

Decentraleyes is a privacy enhancing add-on that has the additional benefit of decreasing the load time for many websites which depend on 3rd party Content Delivery Networks (CDN) for various functionality. It accomplishes this by storing and loading several common JavaScript resources locally instead of having to fetch them from the web server.

Caveats: Could potentially break some websites, though it is easy to white-list affected domains.

Disable Tab Detach by Matt Hensman [enhancement]

Disable Tab Detach simply prevents moving a tab to a new Firefox window if you accidentally drag it downward from the tab bar. I find this behavior incredibly annoying and the lack of a built-in Firefox option to disable it is just stupid. Disable Tab Detach is kind of hacky in the way it works, but it gets the job done.

ETag Stoppa by claustromaniac [privacy/security]

ETag Stoppa is a simple install-it-and-forget-it extension that prevents Firefox from storing entity tags and thus it helps to prevent tracking.

Extension source viewer by Rob W [enhancement]

Extension source viewer is a handy and well thought out utility to quickly view the source code of a Firefox extension right from the Mozilla add-ons website without having to download and unpack it manually. The extension has the ability to search the contents of the files in the source code by prefixing the search with ‘!‘.

Caveats: For advanced users.

Feed Preview by Guido Berhörster [enhancement]

Feed Preview simply displays a formatted version of news feeds, a capability that was built-in to Firefox before the geniuses at Mozilla decided to remove it.

FireMonkey by erosman [enhancement]

FireMonkey is a lightweight utility used to inject JavaScript and/or CSS styles into pages. Unlike Greasemonkey and other add-ons of this type, FireMonkey respects your privacy.

Caveats: For advanced users. Installing user scripts is a security and/or privacy risk. While this holds true for extensions as well, user scripts are generally not scrutinized to the degree that extensions are when they are download from Mozilla.

First Party Isolation by freddyb [privacy/security]

First Party Isolation simply toggles the privacy.firstparty.isolate preference. First Party Isolation, or FPI, is a Firefox privacy feature which plays a very important role in preventing browser tracking and fingerprinting.

Caveats: Could potentially break some websites, though it can be quickly toggled off by clicking its toolbar button.

Flagfox by Dave G [enhancement]

Flagfox is a neat utility that adds an icon to the address bar which represents the flag of the country in which the web server is located. When the icon is right-clicked, a context menu is revealed with many more tools, such as a WHOIS lookup, URL shortening services and more. You can also add your own services.

Caveats: If you choose to display the menu icons, they are not stored locally and have to be fetched the first time you open the menu which some might see as a privacy issue.

HTTPZ by claustromaniac [privacy/security]

HTTPZ is a very simple install-it-and-forget-it add-on that attempts to redirect all all HTTP (insecure) traffic to HTTPS (secure).

Invidition by Booteille [privacy/security]

Invidition redirects links to YouTube videos and replaces embedded YouTube video code using one of the Invidious instances which act as a privacy enhanced front-end/proxy for YouTube. It also redirects Twitter links to Nitter, a privacy enhanced Twitter front-end/proxy.

Caveats: Invidious is not perfect. Sometimes an instance may be overloaded or simply refuse to play a video that would otherwise play fine on youtube.com, however such issues don’t happen too frequently and Invidious is still under heavy development.

Link Text and Location Copier by William Groenendijk [enhancement]

Link Text and Location Copier allows to copy formatted text and a link for a webpage in various ways, plus you can define your own templates. You can also paste content as Rich Text, meaning you can paste the title of a page and its link directly into the visual WordPress editor for example.

Mark-It by Matt [enhancement]

Mark-It is a simple and handy add-on that replaces your new tab page with one that allows you to write notes in markup format.

Maximize All Windows (Minimalist Version) by ericchase [enhancement]

Maximize All Windows (Minimalist Version) does one thing and does it well, and that is to make sure the Firefox window starts in a maximized state. If you typically maximize Firefox and you have privacy.firstparty.isolate enabled, you may be annoyed when it fails to remember its state after restart. This add-on solves the problem, but know that Firefox may be greatly more vulnerable to fingerprinting as a result.

mozlz4-edit by Siarhei Kuzeyeu [enhancement]

mozlz4-edit allows one to edit, format and otherwise manipulate several types of compressed files including the search.json.mozlz4 file which is where Firefox stores all of its search engine plugins.

Caveats: For advanced users.

Privacy Oriented Origin Policy by claustromaniac [privacy/security]

Privacy Oriented Origin Policy (POOP) helps protect your privacy by preventing Firefox from sending Origin headers, though how it works is configurable.

Caveats: For advanced users. May break some websites, though it is easily disabled and sites can be whitelisted. There is a lengthy discussion about what led to the development of this add-on on GitHub if you’re interested.

Redirector by Einar Egilsson [enhancement]

Redirector automatically redirects selected pages, links and more to another resource of your choosing.

Scroll Up Folder by Bruce Bujon [enhancement]

Scroll Up Folder adds an icon in the address bar that, when clicked, opens a list of the segments of the current document address. Clicking the list items makes it really easy to navigate up to a higher level of the address without having to manually edit it.

Site Bleacher by wooque [privacy/security]

Site Bleacher automatically removes cookies, local storage, IndexedDB storage and service workers. It is not perfect, but given the limitations of the Web Extension API and Mozilla’s foot-dragging in fixing its problems, it is the only add-on at this time that automatically cleans IndexedDB and Service Workers storage automatically on a tab by tab basis.

Caveats: May break some websites, however the add-on includes a whitelist.

Skip Redirect by Sebastian Blask [privacy/security]

Redirects sometimes happen when you click on a hyperlink expecting to go directly to the destination and, instead, your request is passed through an intermediary. Redirects are often used to track your browsing history or display ads before you are forwarded to the target domain. Skip Redirect simply tries to bypass this annoying behavior. I would suggest keeping the notification enabled when Skip Redirect does its thing as this makes it easy to troubleshoot a problem.

Caveats: May break the functionality of some websites in which case they can be added to a whitelist.

Smart RSS Reader by zakius [enhancement]

Smart RSS Reader is a 3-pane news feed reader and a pretty good one at that. It hasn’t been around long and so there’s some little niggles with it and it’s missing some non-trivial features, but it functions quite well as a basic reader. The developer is very friendly and open to suggestions.

Stylus by Armin Sebastian [enhancement]

Stylus is used to write, store and apply custom CSS styles to websites, or even the entire web if you wish. Though you can use FireMonkey for this, working with Stylus is much nicer. Note: Do not use Stylish, a similar add-on.

Toggle Fonts by Manuel Reimer [enhancement]

Toggle Fonts provides a simple toggle switch that forces all websites to use your preferred font settings as set in Firefox preferences.

Caveats: May occasionally break how a website is looks, but the add-on is easily disabled by clicking its toolbar icon. Only dictates what fonts a webpage can use; it does not prevent the downloading of fonts.

uBlock Origin by Raymond Hill [privacy/security]

uBlock Origin is a superior content filter (or firewall, if you like) that can replace several other content/ad blockers including Adblock Plus/Edge, NoScript, etc.. It is capable of using the same filter lists as Adblock Plus/Edge as well as many more that they cannot. Two of the most welcome differences with uBlock Origin is that it does not slow page loading to any noticeable degree and it uses less memory then the Adblock derivatives. Another major advantage is that it can block both 1st and 3rd party requests for images, scripts and frames. See my Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs article for more information regarding uBlock Origin. Lastly, note that there are two versions of uBlock; uBlock and uBlock Origin. You absolutely need to use the latter which is written by the original developer, Raymond Hill.

Caveats: For advanced users. As with any content filtering extension, uBlock Origin has the potential to break website functionality until it is configured correctly.

uMatrix by Raymond Hill [privacy/security]

uMatrix is another powerful content blocker by Raymond Hill and though it is similar to uBlock Origin, it offers more granular control over blocking various resources including cookies, CSS, images, plug-ins, scripts, XHR, frames and more. You can use uMatrix and uBlock Origin together. See my guide, Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs, for further information.

Caveats: For advanced users. As with any content filtering extension, uMatrix has the potential to break website functionality until it is configured correctly.

Web Archives by Armin Sebastian [enhancement]

Web Archives makes it easy to find archived version of webpages. It is fairly configurable, though it does not have an option to add your own archive resources, nor does it have an option to send a webpage to an archive, however i find the latter unnecessary since the archive sites i use allow you easily archive a page if one isn’t isn’t found.

Troubleshooting add-on related issues

See Firefox Tweaks and Fixes and Styles and Things.

Listing removed add-ons

While i’m sure there’s a more geeky way of listing extensions which one has removed, this one works for me: In your Firefox profile folder, navigate to /extensions/staged and there should be folders with the names of the removed extensions. You can delete this folder if you like.

Doing it without an add-on

The fewer add-ons you install, the better, and there’s a lot of things you can do to customize Firefox without add-ons.

Enhancing privacy and security

See: Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs and The Firefox Privacy Guide For Dummies!

More tweaks

See: Firefox Tweaks and Fixes and Styles and Things

Giving back

If you like an add-on, or any other free and open source software, please donate to the developer. Trust me when i tell you that most developers of free software usually receive little or nothing for all their hours of hard work and support they provide. Developers are usually very appreciative of a donation regardless of how small it may be.

Recent changes

This list contains only the most recent changes

  • replaced Search by Image with 0T Reverse Image Search
  • changed order of add-on list and added tags to identify primary category of add-ons
  • corrected description of Toggle Fonts add-on
  • minor edits